Archive for February, 2011

Get a Free Copy of “The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing – Second Edition”

February 27, 2011 |  by  |  Secrets of WOMM  |  2 Comments
The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing - Second Edition
I have a gift for you, the readers of my blog: a free copy of the Second Edition of my book, “The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing.”

I’ve described a little of its history here.

It is a broad, systematic approach to word-of-mouth marketing. It approaches WOMM in principle and avoids getting bogged down in all the details of the tools of word-of-mouth marketing. if you don’t understand the basic principles, you’ll get overwhelmed, fast. That’s what’s happening in life in general and in marketing in particular.

I list dozens of broad categories of new media that have become popular since 2001, the publication date of the first edition. ALL of them contribute to the importance of word of mouth and, therefore, to our overload — to yours as a marketer and to your customers.

Not only are you and your customers in overload, we are in the middle of several simultaneous revolutions. So, I give you some advice for what to do when inside revolutions.

This book will help you know how to think about the wildly changing world we are living in.

The first person who I just gave a preview copy to just emailed, “This isn’t a book about word-of-mouth marketing, it’s a book about life.” I couldn’t have hoped for a higher compliment.

Click on this link to fill out the download form.

Are you selling a product, service or idea? Yes.

February 10, 2011 |  by  |  Idea Marketing, Marketing - Gen'l  |  ,  |  1 Comment

You are selling all three. I can’t think of a single product, service or idea that doesn’t at least imply the other two. You are almost certainly neglecting two of these and and missing some great opportunities.

Product: The physical embodiment of what you are selling, how it’s manifest in the world, the deliverable, how you know it’s there.

Service: The actions taken to produce the product.

Idea: The way it’s held in the mind of the customer in thoughts and feelings.

Try to name a single product/service/idea that doesn’t have the other two. You are probably thinking that you have only one of these.

Think about the other two that you are neglecting. There, right in front of you, are the opportunities that you are missing.

Examples of one that people might think don’t have the other two:

Pure Product?

Candy bar: is the service alleviating hunger, giving a treat, a reward, and indulgence? Is the idea “coconut almond” or “deserved reward” or “guilty pleasure”? Your decision is an opportunity.

“Pure commodity” such as gold, steel, soybeans, etc. It’s all about the service: payment terms, delivery, support, advice, guarantee of purity, etc.

An iPod wasn’t mainly a product. We forget that it was an idea: first and foremost it was a way of organizing, storing, sharing and playing your music mess of tapes, CDs, records, files, etc. It was a service that proved that if you make music ridiculously easy to buy, store and organize most people will buy, not steal.

Most great “products” are really great implementations of a great idea.

Conclusion: there is no pure product. There is no parity, me-too, product. A service and idea is always involved.

Pure Service?

A psychotherapist: What’s the product? Health? Growth? Counseling? Confidence? Feeling of well-being? Greater functionality? Greater emotional health? All or some of the above? What’s the “idea”? Remediation or growth. support, fixing, encouraging, greater-self responsibility? Different for each patient? Does the patient know? Is the product delivered in person, by phone, internationally by Skype? Via books, individual sessions, group sessions, speeches, TV talks, a radio call-in program, etc.?

Plumber: Is the product fixing problems, new installations, residential, commercial. Is the idea speed, reliability, always showing up, etc.?

Are Google Search, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter services? Yes. Are they products? Yes. They are at the very least web sites. How you define the product, the idea,  (social contact, finding answers, on-demand goods, instant X, easy X, etc. is worth billions of dollars in these cases. They made the right calls at the right time, and implemented their products brilliantly. None was the first.)

Conclusion: There is no such thing as a pure service that doesn’t have a product and an idea behind it.

Pure ideas?

What if you are selling the idea of Smaller Government, Lower Taxes, Less Spending? If you are actually trying to “sell” it, i.e., persuade people to agree with you, rather than swirling it around in your head, what’s the product, the actions, of your thinking? Joining/starting a Tea Party chapter? Starting a new party? Writing essays, talking, teaching, etc. If you’re actively selling your idea, there has to be a product of your efforts. What’s the service you will provide? Running for office, teaching, lecturing, public speaking, blogging, etc.?

New product idea: You have an idea for a product or service. You’re not selling it unless you are taking steps to manifest it (that’s the product of your thinking) and you are selectively taking actions in the service of the idea: are you the entrepreneur, the finance person, the inventor, the engineer, some or all of the above? What other services do you need to make the idea into a product?

Conclusion: There are “pure” ideas, but not in the marketing context. As soon as you start “selling” the idea, it has to take the form of a product with its attendant services, or a service with its attendant products.

Again, think about the areas you might be neglecting and how you can change your assumptions.

If you think you might make a million dollars out of these insights, at the very least, you owe me lunch, and a rave in the comments section below.

The simple, timely message wins — How to Make Your Message Simple and Timely

The No-Brainer Solution

I guess after the annual Super Bowl Advertising Debacle — in which advertisers try to show how cool they are by making “in” cultural references and edgy humorous skits that have nothing to do with product benefits — I’m on a clarification and simplification of message kick.

After cleaning up my own messages here and here, I got to thinking about the importance of simple messages. I wrote about it in the 2nd edition of Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. (My presumably left-wing NY editors insisted on taking out the stuff about the Tea Party, but they didn’t have any trouble with the stuff about Obama.). Thought you might be interested in the unexpurgated version if you are in the idea marketing business. And, oh, by the way, believe me, you are in the business of marketing ideas.

Eisenhower once said, Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”

Secret: To sell an idea, you must find out what people want most, down deeply, under the concrete.

You can’t find it by asking and taking the first answers. You have to probe deeply.. As Henry Ford once said, “If I’d have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Yes, but it would have given him the opportunity to ask a “dumb question,” “Yes, but what would faster horses mean for you?” You have to identify the real desire.

Then, you have to show them how getting it is more important than clinging to and defending some of their most cherished beliefs, such as the idea that the horseless carriage is an infernal machine sent by the devil.

That’s how Obama sold Hope and Change. Those people who were willing to take a chance on him gave him a chance because they so desperately wanted something different, almost anything different. [It was a simple, elegant message, at a time of despair and dissatisfaction.] That message triumphed over a mushy Republican message that I can’t even summarize, and nobody else could either — hence the lack of word of mouth.

That’s why the Tea Party arose soon after, appealing to Independents and Democratic and Republican segments with a simple, brilliant message of “Smaller Government, Lower Taxes, Less spending.” Everyone got it. You either believed that we were on a disasterous spending binge or you didn’t. The Tea Party refused to get involved in any other issues, leaving that up to the individual candidates to sell locally (simplicity). They will probably win big (They did. This was written in the summer of 2010) because it reflects what people want, in an elegantly simple message. Conventional wisdom is that its popularity was due to “anti-incumbency,” but it’s much more profound than that.

People are willing to change their beliefs when a basic need — in this case their children’s and their own financial security — is threatened and they are presented with a clearly stated solution, and they get the social, word-of-mouth support that is enabled and magnified by the Internet.

Interestingly, one involved a strong central leader, the other the lack of a central leader. For Obama, it was a central person who was unique and spectacularly articulate enough to spark a WOM firestorm over a couple of simple words, “hope and change,”  that summed up people’s frustrations and aspirations.

For the Tea Party Movement, it was also a simple idea, “smaller government, lower taxes, less spending, and the lack of an identified leader that made it possible.

Both tapped into a basic need, and got the word of mouth going in a unique way.

Both illustrate what a simple message at just the right time can do, especially in the Internet Age.

The entire Middle East seems like it’s about to join Yemen and Egypt as the simple American idea — that we seem to keep forgetting — spreads: We don’t want to be told what to do by “rulers.” In other words, liberty and freedom, as rights inherent in individuals, not granted by governments, monarchs or other gangs.

I’m sure you have heard of “flash mobs.” People might decide to show up at a store or an intersection, all at the same time, and swamp all available space. Now, a whole country or even the world can become a flash mob — and they don’t even have to wait for an election.

The lesson for you is the power of the simple, consistent, repeatable, timely message.

My message in the Age of Overload: Ease the decisions. Make your product, service, and ideas a “no-brainer.”

How? Stay tuned. What, you don’t have a subscription? Sign up, free. See, I made it easy.

A little more detail about the 3-sentence Secrets of Marketing

This site is about ONE central idea:

“Easify” the customer decision process:

It’s The Secret Key to Marketing Success

  • Customers are overwhelmed by information overload.
  • So they usually choose the easy-to-decide-on product, not the best.
  • So, the key to marketing is to make it easier to decide on your product than the competition’s.

    Conventional marketing: make the product look more desirable.

    My approach: Eliminate the decision blocks.

    A little more detail: Every decision path has several major stages. Think of them as hills to climb:

    Status quo → finding you → learning about you → culling → weighing → sorting → evaluating → comparing alternatives → justifying trial →trying → buying → using → fixing → teaching → recommending → evangelizing.

    On each of these hills, there are many obstacles:

    Questions, qualms, issues, confusions, uncertainty, misunderstandings, distractions, competitor counter-information, fog, effort, time wasters, information overload, distrust and many other stumbling blocks.

    If they stumble enough, they pause, flounder, go home or find another product that’s easier to fathom. It’s at these hidden obstacles that you’re losing most of your potential customers.

    They’re mostly hidden because you are an expert who doesn’t see how difficult it is to understand and get past these obstacles. You see it as a smooth path, they see it as a bumpy, hilly obstacle course.

    Your job is to identify these friction points and get people past them. In this day and age, you have to do it — not only by being more persuasive — but by making every step and stage of the decision process easier. Give them shortcuts past the hills.

    Conventional marketing tries to be more persuasive: to make the case better that this is the more desirable product.

    My approach is to remove all possible obstacles. Only sometimes does this involve tuning up the persuasion. Usually, this involves getting finding and eliminating the many ways that you have inadvertently made it difficult to understand, try, buy or talk about the product. Every click. Every unnecessary word. Every distracting graphic. Everything that doesn’t clarify. Everything that isn’t from the right source, in the right medium, in the right form, at the right level of detail, in the right sequence, for the right kind of customer.

    This is a different approach to marketing that has caused record-breaking sales increases.

    I’ve finally distilled the secret to marketing success into 3 sentences

    The Secret Key to Marketing Success

    • Customers are overwhelmed by information overload.
    • So they usually choose the easy-to-decide-on product, not the best.
    • So, the key to marketing is to make it easier to decide on your product than the competition’s.

    I’m the leading expert on easifying the customer decision process. If you want clever word play, pretty pictures, or other razzle-dazzle, I’m not your guy. But if you’ve tried all that, try my approach. It’s easier, cheaper and so much more effective.

    I keep telling my consulting clients that they need to have a terse statement like this that sums up the essence of their differences, but they are blocked by expert blindness. I’m no exception. It’s taken 10 years to come up with these three sentences for myself. If there were another decision easification consultant in the world, he or she could have done it for me in a few hours, except for one thing: S/he also would have also had expert blindness in this area! But in your area, I’m an expert in easification, and just ignorant enough to say it simply.

    Learn a little more about the secret to marketing success.

    The Super Bowl Commercials Teach Lessons in How Not to Advertise

    The day after the Super Bowl, I’m still recovering from the commercials. Is it my imagination, or do they get worse every year? The unavoidable conclusion is that these advertisers and their agencies have no idea what advertising as all about. It was a mélange of nostalgia, obscure cultural references, borrowed interest, and non-product-relevant humor. Ironically, consumers constructed the highest-rated ads, not professional advertising agencies.

    Secrets:

    The purpose of any media is to reach people and use its unique characteristics to increase product sales. The purpose of advertising — with rare exceptions — is to dramatize the unique benefits of the product in a memorable and persuasive way that causes sales increases.

    The Super Bowl is no exception, even though its ads have to compete with Super Bowl party conversation, food and drink, bathroom breaks and the competing emotions that come from rooting for the winning or losing team. So, yes, Super Bowl ads have to be off the charts on the attention-getting factor. This, and their astronomical prices, puts them in a class by themselves.

    But none of this absolves the advertiser from the fact that the advertising needs to be about the unique advantages of the brand.

    As I look over the list of the ads, from the idiotic USA Today Super Bowl Popularity Contest, I only remember ONE ad that talks about a brand advantage: The Verizon ad, which highlights its superiority in making calls.

    The reason that advertising popularity contests are idiotic is that the purpose of an ad is not to entertain. It’s to ultimately sell product. This can be done indirectly, such as by enhancing the image of the product, or directly by talking about product advantages.

    When I see a charming ad like the VW borrowed interest Darth Vader ad, I’m vastly entertained. But until someone shows that entertainment causes product sales, I’m amused but skeptical.

    On the other hand, when I see an ad about the Ford Focus, which tries to gin up interest in a rally they are running, I think, “When you have nothing special to say about the car, run a rally.” It’s a dead giveaway that they either have a me-too car, or an incompetent advertising agency, or both.

    As I’ve written elsewhere:

    Before the golden age of advertising, people just put drawings of the product in the mass media, without any benefit statements or even descriptions. Then, advertising hit its stride and discovered its true strengths: bringing dramatizations of the unique benefits of the product to the masses. It was “salesmanship in print” in the best sense. It zeroed in on the most beneficial, unique aspects of the product and dramatized them in an entertaining way that got attention. At least, the best of it did. Then, the side show took over the circus. Most of it — to this day — gave up dramatizing the benefits and went for image instead. “Sell the sizzle, not the steak” became the rallying call for the hypemeisters. Advertising lost its way and just tries to make an intrusive impression, confusing getting attention with fundamental persuasion. Advertising is now judged by its entertainment value rather than its persuasive results. For instance, after the Super Bowl each year, there are many published polls naming the commercials voted “best” by viewers. So, you can win “best commercial” and go out of business because the commercials didn’t cause any sales, as 17 out of 18 of the Dot.com companies did in 2000.

    Advertising that calls attention to itself — instead of something related to the product — almost never works. Advertising history is filled with examples. Many of them won awards. But the products failed.

    I thought you might be interested in reading the section dealing with the Dot-Com Super Bowl, from the 2nd Edition of The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, about to be published in March of 2011.

    The Dot-Com Super  Bowl

    On January 31, 2000, at the height of the dot-com boom, about a dozen dot-coms aired 30-second commercials during Super Bowl XXXIV at a cost of $2.2 million each, the entire marketing budget for some, in the hope that—with hundreds of millions of people watching—they would put their unknown companies on the map and establish a corporate identity. I was appalled and publicly called it the worst case of advertising agency malpractice I had ever seen. Either their ad agencies knew better or they should have. In either case, the agencies were, in my opinion, negligent.

    The dot-com bubble burst soon after. The Super Bowl advertisers found that they could not establish a corporate identity in a 30-second TV spot. They found that they could get everyone talking about their quirky commercials all right, but that wasn’t the same as getting people to rave about their products’ benefits. With one or two exceptions, all the advertisers on that Super Bowl went out of business.

    It became known as the Dot-Com Super Bowl and, in many people’s minds, it not only marked the end of the dot-com bubble, it marked the beginning of the end of the Old Marketing, perhaps symbolized best by the pets.com sock puppet.

    Fortunately, the “too big to fail” mentality hadn’t caught on yet, so the dot-coms were allowed to “creatively destruct.” What nobody realized was that the dot-coms, ironically, were using the old media to sell the new media. Heck, they were the new media!

    So, if you’re going to advertise, at least keep your eye on the ball: emphasize your unique benefits, in a dramatic, entertaining way. And only do it on the Super Bowl if you have a product that most of the billions of people watching can use. Don’t worry if people discuss it in the social media. Measure the effectiveness of ads — and any other marketing efforts — on trials and sales.

    Possible duplicate posts and confirmations

    February 1, 2011 |  by  |  Secrets of WOMM  |  No Comments

    If you are receiving this blog via email rather than an RSS feed, you may get duplicates for a short time. Please accept my apologies. I’m switching from FeedBurner to AWeber, so you may get some emails from both. If you do, please look at the bottom line of the email. If it says Google, please just hit the unsubscribe link in the second line from the bottom. The one you want to keep is the one that says AWeber at the bottom.

    You might also be asked to re-confirm by clicking on a link. Please do so to keep receiving my blog. The confirmation is because AWeber told me that confirmation was unnecessary, then sent out some anyway. Nothing’s easy. Thanks for your patience.

    The good news is that I’m going to be sending you a link to a free copy of the second edition of Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, as soon as I get the web forms straightened out.